High-Throughput Soft Matter Characterisation for Formulation Discovery


Direct Ink Writing (DIW), extrusion-based 3D printing, is a rapidly developing processing technique for additive manufacturing of advanced, functional materials into complex designs. Integral to the successful discovery of new materials for DIW is the ability to rapidly screen chemical parameter spaces of precursor “ink” formulations. This project will experimentally develop and implement automation protocols for rheometry and small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) to establish a library of carbohydrate-based cytocompatible polymers (e.g. alginates) and crosslinking chemistries (divalent ions, thiol-ene click) suitable for bioprinting. This will facilitate the high-throughput measurements required to screen green, multicomponent formulations with complex flow behaviours which are both challenging to formulate and characterise. New digital tools will be developed to process the large datasets generated and implement our novel data analyses [e.g. Physics of Fluids, 2023 35, 017113]. In doing so, new insights into relationships between materials chemistry, formulation microstructure, rheology, and macroscale “printability” will be established [J. Mater. Chem. A., 2020, 8 (31), 15646-15657].  

This project will utilise the newly refurbished Complex Fluids Laboratory in the School of Engineering (as part of Dr García-Tuñón’s 4 year £1.6M UKRI Future Research Leaders Fellowship), interdisciplinary expertise as well as state of the art characterisation equipment in the Materials Innovation Factory (MIF). 

The student recruited to this project will be part of a cohort-training programme focused on the application of digital methods (data and physics based, robotics and automation) to materials chemistry and will be based in the Materials Innovation Factory at Liverpool.

Applicant Eligibility

Candidates will have, or be due to obtain, a Master’s Degree or equivalent from a reputable University in an appropriate field of Engineering. Exceptional candidates with a First Class Bachelor’s Degree in an appropriate field will also be considered.  Some prior knowledge of (bio)polymers, rheology, complex fluids and/or additive manufacturing would be beneficial. Relevant training to be provided where required.

Application Process

Candidates wishing to apply should complete the University of Liverpool application form applying for a PhD in Materials Engineering and uploading: Degree Certificates & Transcripts, an up-to-date CV, a covering letter/personal statement and two academic references.

We want all of our staff and Students to feel that Liverpool is an inclusive and welcoming environment that actively celebrates and encourages diversity. We are committed to working with students to make all reasonable project adaptations including supporting those with caring responsibilities, disabilities or other personal circumstances. For example, If you have a disability you may be entitled to a Disabled Students Allowance on top of your studentship to help cover the costs of any additional support that a person studying for a doctorate might need as a result.


Open to students worldwide

Funding information

Funded studentship

The EPSRC funded Studentship will cover full tuition fees of £4,786 per year and pay a maintenance grant for 4 years, starting at the UKRI minimum of £19,237 pa. for 2024-2025. The Studentship also comes with access to additional funding in the form of a research training support grant which is available to fund conference attendance, fieldwork, internships etc.

EPSRC Studentships are available to any prospective student wishing to apply including international students. Up to 30% of our cohort can comprise of international students and they will not be charged the fee difference between UK and international rate.



  1. Rau, D.A., et al., Progress in Materials Science, 2023: 101188
  2. Pattnaik, A. et al., Biomaterials, 296, 2023, 122078
  3. Li, C. et al., Trends in Biotechnology, 39, 2, 2021, 150-164
  4. García-Tuñón, E., et al., Physics of Fluids, 2023: 35(1)
  5. García-Tuñón, E., et al., J. Mater. Chem. A., 2020, 8 (31), 15646-15657